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Twelve-year-old Calvin and his family are living through the disastrous Dust Bowl of the 1930s. Each year, when the crop disappoints and the rain doesn’t come, his father says “It’s gonna be better next year.” Calvin doesn’t really believe him.

This story of a family’s fading dreams, difficult times, and their love for the land will give children a good start on understanding the terrible effects of the Dust Bowl. It also touches on some of the manmade causes of the tragedy. Yet it is not a hopeless story.

Gary Kelley’s lovely painted illustrations echo the family’s love for the land and the beauty that exists even in the darkest times. While Next Year is a picture book, it is directed at a slightly higher level than most. Ages 6 and up. (Creative Editions)

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